Media - Solar Citizens

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New report backs the need for an all-encompassing transport emissions strategy in Australia

Solar Citizens this morning responds to the release of the 2022 Climate of the Nation report from the Australia Institute, which reaffirms the importance of a National Net Zero Transport Strategy required to fully decarbonise the sector.

“The Australia Institute report today clearly shows that Australians want all-encompassing climate plans for all sectors of the economy, including transport – our fastest-growing source of carbon emissions,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens. 

“Concern for climate change is at an all-time high – most Australians have seen the harrowing effects of fires, floods and droughts at their doorstep, all within the last few years.

“Australians want solutions now and see the role of Australia in being a climate leader. But when it comes to transport emissions, most people probably don’t realise most of our emissions come from road-based transport, in particular cars.

“The Federal Government’s recent National Electric Vehicle Strategy will be a great first step to addressing our rising transport emissions. Today’s Australia Institute report demonstrates that two-thirds of Australians see the importance of a globally competitive fuel efficiency standard – the key policy mechanism explored in the Strategy.

“As we detailed in our own submission on the Strategy, any subsidies for EVs should be targeted to lower-income households to give them a helping hand in this transition – a point that 72% of Australians support, according to this report.

“We need ways to encourage people to do fewer trips in cars when they can. However as the report has shown, most people don’t feel that our public transport systems are reliable, affordable, or even better for the climate. 

“Powering our public transport systems with cheap, renewable energy is a no-brainer and a low-hanging fruit for transport decarbonisation. Investing in more frequent services to increase reliability will deal with the rest.

“But a lot of people also like having the flexibility of commuting at a time that suits them – and this is where measures to encourage the uptake of bike riding, including e-bike subsidies come in. So that more people can enjoy getting around safely, we should open more streets to bike riding without car traffic.

“It’s time to get on with it – Australians are sick of waiting for action while floodwaters lap at their doorsteps."

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)

Victorian Energy Announcement Leaves Shadow Over Chris Minns

20 October 2022: VICTORIAN ENERGY ANNOUNCEMENT LEAVES SHADOW OVER CHRIS MINNS

Solar Citizens today celebrates an election commitment from the Victorian Labor Government to increase the State’s Renewable Energy Target to 95% by 2035, and set a new emissions reduction target of 75-80% by 2035. 

“The Victorian Government has significantly raised the bar today and announced clean energy policies that will provide cheaper clean energy for our community, more local jobs, and drive down emissions as we experience increasing severe weather events,” said Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas.

Today’s Victorian announcement follows the recent launch of Queensland’s Energy and Jobs Plan which commits the Sunshine State to a 70% Renewable Energy Target by 2032 and the closure of all state-owned coal stations by 2035. 

“Right now Australians are facing a triple whammy: the impacts of the climate crisis are hurting our communities, while energy prices are spiraling and the cost of living is getting out of control. Policies like what the Victorian and Queensland governments have announced will work to slash emissions and our power bills,” said Ms Douglas. 

“We’re now looking at New South Wales to follow the leadership of Victoria and Queensland to step up their renewable energy and emission reduction policies.

“New South Wales will head to the polls in just over six months but it’s unclear if Labor Opposition Leader Chris Minns has an appetite to follow the leadership of his colleagues and implement increased ambition on clean energy.

“With NSW Labor Opposition leader Chris Minns currently ahead in the polls, we want to see Minns step up and back more ambitious clean energy and emissions reduction targets, like his successful colleagues to the north and south.

“New South Wales residents have lived through fires and floods in recent years, made worse by climate change. Any future NSW Premier will need to be a strong leader on climate.”

 

BACKGROUND:

The Victorian Government has today announced:

  • No coal and a 95% renewable energy target by 2035
  • An emissions reduction target of 75-80% by 2035
  • A new Publicly owned State Electricity Commission
  • The government has estimated its energy plan will create 60,000 jobs by 2035.

The Queensland Energy Plan announced:

  • 70% renewable energy target by 2032
  • Repowering the state-owned coal-fired power generation by 2035
  • Queensland has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, with an interim target to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030

The NSW Perottet Government:

  • A roadmap for 12,000 MW of renewable energy and 2,000MW of storage to come online by 2030
  • Targets of a 50 percent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050

NSW Labor Chris Minns:

  • Labor has committed to legislate the state’s carbon emissions reduction targets, as well as establish a Net Zero Commission, who would develop the plan to net zero by 2050, monitor and review the plan and trajectory, including impacts on jobs and industry, as well as energy prices. The Commission would update the plan every five years.

 

Media contact: Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas 0401 092 570

Queensland Hydrogen Report Highlights Townsville’s Potential

20 October 2022: Queensland Hydrogen Report Highlights Townsville’s Potential

Solar Citizens this morning responds to the launch of the Queensland Government’s Enabling Queensland’s hydrogen production and export opportunities report, which highlights that Townsville is one of the key Queensland locations for developing a renewable hydrogen industry. 

“Townsville is noted for having hydrogen development potential because of the city’s port facilities and the region's excellent solar and wind resources,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.

“The report notes that the region has a huge 24,300 MW renewable energy potential. For context, right now there is only 3,000 MW of large-scale solar and wind projects operating in the State.

“The report also notes that collaboration between hydrogen developers is key to deliver common user infrastructure. We think there is a role for government to play in ensuring that there’s adequate collaboration and planning happening so that we’re building shared infrastructure that’s cost effective, has minimal environmental impacts and also benefits the community.”

Alongside the report, the Queensland Government announced up to $15 million to supercharge, coordinate and further plan for hydrogen hubs in key locations across the state.

“In Townsville there are three major renewable hydrogen proposals, but there’s also a number of proposals to manufacture clean technology like solar panels and battery materials,” said Ms Gray. 

“The Townsville region is well-placed to become Australia’s first renewable energy-powered manufacturing and minerals processing hub, which is why we’d like to see the state and federal governments commit to do a planning study looking deeper at the region’s renewable hydrogen and manufacturing potential.

“To unlock Townsville's exciting clean economy and jobs potential we need all levels of government to work together to develop a comprehensive manufacturing plan for the region to best meet the emerging infrastructure and labour training needs.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray

Report available here.

Aussie battlers missing out on car savings

29th September 2022: Aussie battlers missing out on car savings

Today, the reinstatement of the full fuel excise will see the vast majority of drivers hit hard at the petrol pump, because of Australia’s decade-long delay on electric vehicle (EV) policy, says clean transport advocacy group Solar Citizens. This comes on the rescheduled World EV Day, and a day after the government opened a consultation on their upcoming National EV Strategy.

“When the cost of living is increasing, wage growth is stagnating, and now the fuel excise is back in full effect, more and more people will be looking to a second hand car market rather than new cars. But many of these second hand cars are still inefficient gas guzzlers,” says Clean Transport Campaigner Ajaya Haikerwal.

Haikerwal created Solar Citizens’ popular EV Savings Calculator, which demonstrates the disparity between fueling a petrol car at today’s costs with the far cheaper charging costs of an EV from grid energy or home solar.

“The results are shocking – petrol cars are up to 45 times more expensive to fuel than EVs charged purely on home solar. At a time when most people are paying between $60 and $160 a week on petrol, this might leave some feeling betrayed by the government. 

“People on lower incomes spend a greater proportion of their income on vehicle costs, meaning that they have the most to benefit from EVs which we have proved are cheaper to fuel and have negligible maintenance costs.

“But the lack of supply in Australia means we aren't getting enough affordable or second hand EVs, so most people are locked out of the savings an EV allows. There are 26 models available under $60,000 in the United Kingdom, but only 8 here. That's just not fair, and we reckon it’s un-Australian.

“We need policies that will see Australians from all walks of life brought along in the EV transition, to alleviate transport cost stress for households. This starts with implementing a globally competitive Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standard – a key feature of yesterday’s National EV Strategy discussion paper.

Solar Citizens says that a strong Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standard, free of loopholes, incentivises manufacturers to bring a range of affordable EVs to the country and stimulates a robust second hand EV market, increasing consumer choice for all Australians.

“Australia’s flatlining progress on EVs is a legacy of the last federal government, who vilified EVs, saying they would end the weekend. But nothing destroys the weekend more than having to take a second job to cover rising fuel costs,” said Haikerwal.

Case Study

Rachael Hansen works in the tourism industry in Victoria, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since fuel prices started skyrocketing earlier this year, she has had to carefully monitor her spending, and limiting how far she travelled.

“I had to be really conscious of not using my vehicle and spending money on fuel: my car went from $55 a tank to $110 a tank. I need to drive to get to work, that's my necessity,” said Hansen.

Rachael painted the stark reality of the trade offs that Australians are having to make day-to-day, such as paying for the fuel to make long trips to see friends living further afield.

“I’ve got two really close friends that live on the Mornington Peninsula – it pretty much costs me a tank of fuel to get me there and back,” she said.

“So I waited until I did alright in tips at work, and decided that’s what I’d spend my tip money on that week – petrol. That’s a bit sad, because normally it’s coffee money or drinks money, but now it’s going back into the household. It’s money I have to rely on to pay for things.”

Rachael seemed nervous with the fuel excise coming back in full effect today – the high costs she had been paying for petrol included the discount. Faced with the prospect of buying an affordable EV in the future, Rachael thought this would be ideal and would work for her lifestyle.

“Currently I’m only driving 40 mins to an hour each way, so I guess I could charge it at home or at work. If it was something that was affordable I would definitely change to an EV.”

When Rachael tried out the Solar Citizens EV Savings Calculator, she was blown away by the differences in cost.

“Damn that’s a lot of money! When can I buy an electric car?” she quipped. 

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)

Queensland Powers Up Renewables in New Energy Plan

28 September 2022: Queensland Powers Up Renewables in New Energy Plan

Solar Citizens today welcomes the release of Queensland’s 10-Year Energy Plan and the State’s increased renewable energy target of 70 per cent by 2032. The Government estimates that household retail bills will be $150 lower in 2032 than they otherwise would have been due to today's announcements.

“Queensland’s new Energy Plan is a significant step forward for the Sunshine State that will help unlock abundant, cheap renewable energy to bring down power bills and make it competitive for new clean manufacturing industries to set up shop in Queensland,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.

“A stronger renewable energy target and the planned repowering of the State’s coal-fired power stations to clean energy hubs by 2035 is great news for transitioning communities and our environment.  

“Our existing coal-fired power stations have strong grid connections so it’s clever to turn them into renewable energy hubs to save on infrastructure costs. It’s also great news for local communities that jobs will be replaced onsite.

“The Queensland Government’s ongoing commitment to maintaining majority public ownership of our electricity generation, and the additional $2.5 billion announced today for building new publicly-owned renewable plants, means that we can transform our energy system in a planned way that stimulates jobs in communities that need it.”

The Energy Plan also includes two massive pumped hydro infrastructure projects; the Borumba Dam project and the Pioneer-Burdekin project.

“We’re going to need a significant amount of storage to repower Queensland’s energy system, so it’s good that the Queensland Government is planning ahead and investing in these projects now as they take several years to build,” said Ms Gray.

“Pumped hydro is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to powering the State with 100% clean energy, but like all projects we need to make sure that the sites selected are the least impactful to the environment and our waterways.”

What’s in the plan:

  • Coal out of Queensland’s energy mix by 2037 and all publicly owned coal-fired power stations operating as clean energy hubs by 2035.

  • The State Government has announced an additional $4 billion in funding, including:

    • $2.5 billion to build publicly-owned renewable energy, adding to the existing $2 billion Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs fund; 

    • $270 million to progress two pumped hydro projects (the Borumba Dam and Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro projects);

    • $285 million to start building the SuperGrid;

    • Powerlink will invest $365 million for grid upgrades in Central Queensland; 

    • $200 million Regional Economic Futures Fund;

    • $150 million Job Security Guarantee to support workers in publicly owned coal-fired power stations;

    • $20 million to supercharge Queensland’s renewable hydrogen hubs;

    • $4 million to advance the bioenergy sector;

    • $42 million for integrating electric vehicles;

    • $35 million for a business savings and transformation program;

    • $11.6 million to grow local supply chains and support manufacturers;

    • $90 million to establish two new regional transmission and training hubs;

    • $10 million Queensland Microgrid Pilot Fund.

  • New projects that will be funded under the Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs fund include:

    • The Tarong West wind farm;

    • The Banana Range wind farm;

    • A new 200 MW hydrogen peaking plant at Kogan Creek.

  • Queensland will be on a pathway to reach 60% renewables by 2030, and 70% by 2032.

  • Electricity emissions 90% lower than 2005 by 2035-36.

  • A new Queensland Energy System Advisory Board will be created to review the plan every two years from 2025.

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425 543 006

National Electric Vehicle Strategy unlocks path forward for zero emissions transport

28 September 2022: National Electric Vehicle Strategy unlocks path forward for zero emissions transport

Solar Citizens today welcomes the Federal Government’s National Electric Vehicle Strategy consultation process, stating that this shows that the government is genuine in its commitment to zero-emissions transport.

“After almost a decade of stalling, pit stops and roadblocks on Australia’s electric vehicle (EV) policy, it’s refreshing to see a genuine consultation process open – this is indeed a step in the right direction,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“With the fuel excise subsidy coming off tomorrow, this consultation could not come at a better time. Australian households are paying more than ever for fuel. Having access to affordable EVs, with Australian-made batteries and components, charged from cheap, clean renewable energy would do wonders for the hip pocket and our climate.

“The discussion paper presents some challenging topics to consider, and we’re pleased to see that the government is taking this process seriously, with pointed questions around supply, equity, subsidies, manufacturing and charging.

“Critically, there are five questions around the most important EV policy required to get up to speed with the rest of the world – Fuel Efficiency Standards. This policy is a low-hanging fruit that will see a wave of affordable EVs being brought into the country, increasing consumer choice and reducing our emissions, but only if it’s designed correctly, without loopholes.”

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)

Victoria Charges Up with Key Storage Target

27 September 2022: Victoria Charges Up with Key Storage Target

Solar Citizens today welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement of a State-wide Renewable Energy Storage Target and calls for a similar federal policy.

Victoria has pledged to reach 2.6 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy storage capacity by 2030, with an increased target of 6.3 GW of storage by 2035, which the Victorian Premier’s office announced is “enough renewable energy to power aroundhalf of Victoria's current homes at their peak energy use”.

“Adopting a Renewable Energy Storage Target is a smart move by the Victorian Government. More storage means we can capture and utilise cheap renewable energy around the clock while maintaining grid reliability,” said Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“Australia is at an energy crossroads. We can create a fairer, cheaper energy system now for current and future generations, which is why we are now calling on the Federal Government to also invest in more clean energy storage.

“Right across the country, we urgently need to bring online much more storage, including household and large-scale batteries and pumped hydro plants, to bring down power prices and prepare the grid for early coal closures.

“It’s been made clear by the Australian Energy Market Operator that it’s likely that 60 per cent of Australia’s coal-fired power stations will close by 2030. We need to significantly increase the rollout of energy storage to support this shift. 

“If we manage the transformation of our grid well it will mean cheaper, cleaner electricity and more households taking the power back from big energy companies by having access to solar and household storage.

“The Victorian Government has already shown a significant amount of clean energy leadership with their Solar Homes Program. Solar homes in the state can already access battery rebates of up to $2,950.

“We’d like to see the Australian Government match Victoria’s leadership by implementing a federal Renewable Energy Storage Target that includes support for Australia’s millions of solar owners to install a battery and store their own cheap solar energy, enabling Aussie’s to utilise our great sun-power in the evenings. This will also encourage more householders to take up solar ownership”.

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For more information contact: Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director Solar Citizens: 0401 092 570

 

Ark Energy Announces Massive NQ Clean Energy Hub

21 September 2022: Ark Energy Announces Massive NQ Clean Energy Hub

Solar Citizens today responds to news that Ark Energy will develop a 3,000MW renewable energy hub near Collinsville by 2030.

“There’s currently about 3,000 MW of large-scale solar and wind projects operating in Queensland, so today’s announcement by Ark Energy represents a doubling of the State’s large-scale clean energy capacity,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“The biggest renewable energy project operating in the State right now is the 450 MW Coopers Gap Wind Farm and construction is starting on the 1,000 MW Macintyre wind precinct.

“This is an exciting step towards Ark Energy achieving their goal of becoming a major global renewable hydrogen exporter right here from North Queensland.

“To realise their goals of having a 3,500 MW hydrogen production facility in Townsville by 2040, Ark Energy will need access to at least 7,700 MW of clean energy generation. 

“Research shows that Northern Queensland is the cheapest place in the country to produce renewable hydrogen because the region has such good co-located solar and wind resources. It’s a no-brainer to turbocharge clean energy investment here. 

“Ark Energy is just one of several businesses that are looking to set up or expand clean industry in North Queensland. We’d like to see the Australian and Queensland governments work together to support these businesses by establishing Townsville as Australia’s first Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct – a hub for renewable-powered manufacturing and industry.

“We need a planned vision for turning the whole region into a clean energy manufacturing powerhouse so we’re getting it right and investing in the infrastructure and workforce training the region needs.”

Australians’ Love of Utes Shows Need for Strong Vehicle Pollution Standards Across the Board

Thursday 15 September 2022: Australians’ Love of Utes Shows Need for Strong Vehicle Pollution Standards Across the Board

Today’s report by the National Transport Commission clearly shows we need strong and consistent fuel efficiency standards (FES) for all cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, says clean transport advocacy group Solar Citizens. The report indicates that, despite a tripling of electric vehicle (EV) sales, new car emissions are continuing to rise in part because of increasing SUV and ute sales. 

“Australians love their utes, and the market is already responding to the demand for a right hand drive EV ute,” says Solar Citizens Clean Transport Campaigner Ajaya Haikerwal.

“When electric utes arrive in Australia, we know that people will embrace them. Demand for EVs has never been higher and when Australians can pair their love of utes with the petrol and pollution savings of an electric model, they will leap at the opportunity.

“We're pleased that the Albanese Government has committed to investigating fuel efficiency standards – the key policy to accelerate the supply of affordable EVs and bring down transport emissions. 

“Now we need to ensure that the standards we bring in are strong enough – without the loopholes that the petrol car lobby is calling for,” said Mr Haikerwal.

“Given the purchasing trends uncovered in today’s report, it's clear that we cannot have two different standards for cars and for SUVs and light commercial vehicles like utes, as the petrol car lobby is demanding. Failing to have strong pollution standards for Australia’s favourite vehicles will cause us to fall even further behind the rest of the world.

“With strong fuel efficiency standards we will see more and more EV options being available in Australia. New Zealand went from three to ten percent of new car sales being EVs in just under a year, after they introduced their FES equivalent, the Clean Car Standard.

“Petrol prices are affecting Australians from all walks of life – nurses, retail workers, tradies and office workers alike. No matter what car we have, if it's using petrol it's hurting our hip pockets. Addressing the supply issue of EVs with fuel efficiency standards will bring a range of EVs to the country and give people the opportunity to buy the electric car that suits them the most.”

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324

A Higher RET would be a Win for Queenslanders

8 September 2022: A Higher RET would be a Win for Queenslanders

Solar Citizens this morning responds to claims in The Australian that the Queensland Government is considering a higher renewable energy target in their upcoming 10-Year Energy Plan.

“We really encourage the Queensland Government to go beyond their 50 per cent by 2030 renewable energy target to keep up to speed with the rest of the country and maximise opportunities in new clean export markets,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“At the moment Queensland is only getting about 20 per cent of our energy from renewables, while other states are rushing ahead, like Tasmania that operates on almost 100 per cent renewables and South Australia running at 66 per cent. 

“Over the last year Queensland has had the highest wholesale electricity prices in Australia's main grid because we rely the most on globally expensive fossil fuels. 

“An analysis we undertook with the Queensland Conservation Council found that Queensland could easily meet the 50 per cent renewable energy target five years early in 2025 due to the number of renewable projects likely to proceed across the State.

“Getting on with the transformation of our energy system will not only bring down wholesale power prices, it will also set the Sunshine State up to capitalise on clean manufacturing and export industries. 

“We analysed a number of clean industry proposals around Townsville, which include solar panel and battery manufacturing and renewable hydrogen production, and found that these projects will create an extra 3,600 MW of demand in the region. The State Government must keep enabling more renewable energy projects to come online so projects like these have access to affordable energy.”

Last week Solar Citizens released polling of the Townsville Local Government Area that found:

  • 55% said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2032 when the State is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics.

  • 85% support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006